Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Nakasendo Way * Part 5


The Nakasendo Way - Walking in the countryside

As we move deeper into the countryside you will notice that the village homes become larger and the surroundings more pleasant. In each village there were carp ponds, vegetable plots and on the outskirts, rice fields.

When I was walking the Nakasendo it was the second half of September - harvest time.
I was told that small groups of farmers would collectively own and operate a harvesting machine, such as this one, and working as a unit they would move from farm to farm until all the rice had been cut and either threshed on the spot as this mini machine is doing or hung to dry on stands.

The stalks are also hung to dry and are put to many uses.

Six geese and shadows - Koson Ohara

The Nakasendo walkers at the big marker rock.

Gaijin walkers trudge
through history and culture
Nakasendo way

In Japan you inevitably find examples of the misuse or misappropriation of the English language which serve to illustrate how difficult it is to learn English as a second language.

High in the hills near this tea plantation, just before the town of Hosokute, we stop at 'Le Province" (sic) herb cafe for a delicious coffee and exquisite little French cake baked on site.

It is a rather unfortunate stop because for the next hour or more as it quickly darkens we walk through a torrential thundering downpour with wild flashes of lightning illuminating our path which has turned into a running stream.
By the time we reach the main road it is very dark and we emerge from the forest like mythical Japanese ghosts, in our sodden ponchos and parkas, and wait for the gentleman who owns the Daikokuya Inn to come and rescue us.

Rain at Omiya - Kawase Hasui

Morning Glory and frog - Hokusai

As we set out each morning from the village inn I notice the well designed and kept Japanese gardens, the vegetable plots, some of which are screened in mesh to keep out bands of marauding monkeys which, I am told, have a predilection for onions. Some larger gardens even have electric fencing.

And all along the way the many different many wildflowers.

Tea time - Sarah Brayer

In addition to monkeys we keep our eyes peeled for snakes and bears. At some stages of the walk John will tie a tinkling bell to his waist to give any bears in the vicinity advance notice of our coming. It seems to work.

Ando Hiroshige - Cherry Tree

A spring scene of rice paddies newly planted.

The rice fields spread
their flooding terracing of mirrors
segments in a beetle's wing


The small farm plots in rural Japan are owned and farmed by an aging population the children of whom have moved to the cities and have no interest in following their parents' footsteps or in maintaining a time honoured tradition. This is posing a big problem for the Japanese government. Rural land is relatively inexpensive.

In my old home
which I forsook
the cherries are in blossom


Cherry Blossom of Omuro - Tomikichiro Tokuriki



  1. I feel like doing this walk so much!..where about are you now Delwyn?

    xxx Mona

  2. Thoroughly enjoying the whole thing ...and the "tea time" and "cherry blossom of Omuro"...

  3. wow! i've learned lots! =)
    thank you, Delwyn for the wonderful post!

  4. I want to make sure my youngest son sees this - he loved his time in Japan and learning Japanese language and culture in high school.

  5. So beautiful. Once again you have given us glimpses at a different culture. I like the way you incorporate art work & poetry amongst your photographs.
    Happy Easter :-) Lizzy

  6. There are so many things happening to the rice industry in Japan..thank you for mentioning it! I enjoyed this virtual walk through Nakasendo with you!

  7. Hi Mona, we are now in the upper Kiso Valley in the heart of the Nakasendo. It is very picturesque area around the towns of Magome, the hamlet of O-tsumago and Tsumago post town- very scenic and appealing countryside. From here we climb higher into the Kiso Valley to the old lumber areas.

  8. Sarah Lulu,
    I couldn't resist throwing a few cherry blossoms in seeing as it is currently Sakura season in Japan.

  9. Moonshin, I'm glad to have been of help...

  10. Meri,
    I didn't know that. Did he travel around much there?

  11. Tulsa,

    Hi there from the land of Sakura...

    I appreciate your added comments Tulsa.

  12. Hello Lizzy from easter Monday,

    Thanks for joining us in the Kiso Valley- a know a great coffee spot atop the hills in Tsumago with views of Mt Ontake...

  13. ...You never mentioned snakes before! I might have to change my mind about wanting to trace your steps on this walk!...Beautiful pictures though...the farms and vegetable gardens are gorgeous...

  14. Oliag,
    calm down now...Its ok, I didn't see any -
    (only my friend did!!!)
    We are accustomed to snakes living in Au...I was thinking about the bears...

  15. WOW!!!!!! What great snapshots and your descriptions are so vivid that I felt like I was there.
    Would you consider joining our gang for Friday Shoot-Out's Delwyn? We have a fantastic time and are always looking for new member's. We just want to see your world through your eyes and lens. Darling Sarah Lulu joined us this week and her snaps are beautiful.
    If you're interested, I posted about it on Saturday. Have a little look see and hit me up at my comment box if you're interested so I won't miss it.
    Please think about it. Take good care and.......

    Steady On
    Reggie Girl

  16. (sigh)...i do so enjoy your walks. it inspires me to share one that we had yesterday. i'll have to do that this week.


  17. Julie, how is spring coming along?
    I love hearing about your adventures to the shoreline too...


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.